Well, it's the final Sunday in November, which also means that it is the final Sunday which focuses on 1990s music...
...well, for now, at least.
And, to end this blog entry off right, we may as well feature a song that hit the charts just as the nineties were coming to an end.
Now, I don't know about any of you out there, but if you lived through the year 1999, you'll know that it was one incredibly topsy-turvy year. Everyone was getting rich off of the dot com bubble (which promptly popped a year or two later), Susan Lucci finally won a Daytime Emmy award, and Ricky Martin was shaking his bon-bon as the music scene exploded with a Latin flavour. On the flipside, JFK Jr's plane crashed, Columbine High School was the site of a deadly school shooting, and refugees from Kosovo were trying to find a new place to call home.
Certainly 1999 was an interesting year in my own life. It was the year that I turned eighteen, and it was also the year that I could have graduated high school (and probably should have), but decided to stay for a thirteenth grade because for some reason, being a part of the Class of 2000 seemed cooler.
Oh, how immature I was.
That's not to say that 1999 wasn't all that horrible. In fact, I remember 1999 being one of the better years of my life. I think that during the middle part of the decade, I put way too much stock in getting people to like me, and by the end of the decade, I decided that I just didn't care anymore. I also started to get back my academic swagger after abandoning it for a while because of the fact that I let getting picked on and being bullied affect my school life so much that I stopped caring about homework. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough for me to get my grades up to the point where I would be accepted by Harvard, Yale, or Princeton...but you know what? I never really wanted to go to those schools in the first place!
In 1999, I remember that I really liked a lot of the classes that I was taking during that year. I loved my English Media class, because it was more or less a film studies class (which, for a pop culture addict such as myself was a dream come true). I hated my physics class so much that I dropped it after three weeks and ended up with a free period. Of course, dropping physics also ensured that I had absolutely no final exams that semester, which was MUCH welcomed!
And, another class that I remembered taking at the tail end of 1999 was World Issues. One of the reasons why I loved that class was the fact that our teacher really made world issues easier to understand...by rarely talking about them! Seriously, our teacher had the idea that learning would be more fun if we had fun in class. And, if that meant playing games, listening to music, or doing less-than-serious projects in class, it was all worth it.
(I suppose I should also mention that my world issues teacher retired in 2000. That might have had something to do with it.)
But I still remember working on a project in which we had to do a retrospective of 1999 (I was in that class during the first semester of Grade 13, which ran from September 1999 until January 2000), and the two girls that I was partnered up with and I did a retrospective of the year to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. Needless to say, we were kind of glad that the teacher wasn't judging us on our singing abilities, because I'm certain that our group would have received a permanent ban from “American Idol” (well, had American Idol existed back in 1999). But some of the things that we included in our song were the craze known as Pokemon, Wayne Gretzky's “99” retiring, and three French-only signs following the news that Francophones in Quebec were demanding the complete eradication of English from the province.
(Sad to know that almost fifteen years later, some things never change.)
Oh, and whenever we got to the part where in the Christmas song was sung as “five golden rings”, we would instead sing the words “Mambo #5”.
And, wouldn't you know it? That happens to be the subject of today's Sunday Jukebox!
ARTIST: Lou Bega
SONG: Mambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of...)
ALBUM: A Little Bit of Mambo
DATE RELEASED: April 19, 1999
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS: #3
Interestingly enough, although the song just missed the top spot on the Billboard charts, it did reach the top of the charts in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and in Lou Bega's native Germany.
TRIVIA: In fact, Lou Bega's song did so well in France that it stayed at the number one position on the charts there for TWENTY WEEKS. I don't know any Billboard single that topped the charts for that length of time!
On the flipside, it could also be considered to be one of the most annoying songs of the last few years. I know that when I was eighteen, I had more than my fill of this particular single.
And, surprisingly enough, this was NOT a one-hit-wonder for Lou Bega. He had another single chart in 2000 called “Tricky Tricky”. Which is actually a song that I like better, to be completely honest.
However, since Lou Bega's bigger hit was “Mambo No. 5”, then that is the song that we will focus on.
Now, on the surface, “Mambo No. 5” did well on the charts because there really wasn't any single released in the late 1990s that sounded anything like it. It was a single that blended contemporary dance-pop music with old-fashioned mambo music. In fact, the song itself is called Mambo No. 5 because it samples the mambo and jive song of the same name that was originally recorded by Damaso Perez Prado fifty years before Lou Bega's single was released.
Here. Have a listen to the 1940s version of Mambo No. 5. You might hear some similarities.
NOTE: Do not ask me where Mambo No. 1, Mambo No. 2, Mambo No. 3, or Mambo No. 4 went. I don't even know if those songs even exist.
Now, the original Mambo No. 5 was an instrumental piece which encouraged people to get up and jump, jive, and wail. But Lou Bega's version was more...sexy in nature.
Or, sexist, depending on what your perspective is.
Basically the whole song is about Lou Bega wanting to find a way to get a girl to fall in love with him and spend some quality time together. The problem is that he can't decide which girl he wants.
So he has this idea. What if he decides that he wants to have a little bit of everyone? A little bit of Monica, a little bit of Erika, a little bit of Tina...etc.
I mean, yeah, you could make the argument that Lou Bega really wants a girl who has the best qualities of eight or nine other girls to have the perfect girlfriend. Or, you could also make the assumption that Lou Bega fears commitment and would rather play the field.
Of course, neither one actually makes the singer of the song look all that great. Not that I'm accusing the real Lou Bega of being a player, of course. I don't know the man.
I will say that the music video was definitely memorable though. Director Jorn Heitmann mad Lou dancing along with 1920s and 1930s era flappers as the video shifted from black and white to colour imagery, as well as images of movie scenes from the 1930s and clips of big bands and people playing trumpets.
And, I suppose that you know a song is a hit when the Disney Channel likes it enough to make a video of their own based on the single. Mind you, for the video to be considered Disney ready, the lyrics of the song certainly wouldn't fly. After all, any references to beer, gin and juice, and flirting were huge Disney no-no's. So, the lyrics were changed, and instead of the names of random women, they were replaced with the names of Disney characters.
And to close this blog entry off...I'll present the Disney version below.
Starting next week...the beginning of A Pop Culture Addict's Advent Calendar: Year Two”. And, with the commencement of the advent calendar, the holiday songs begin. Hope you like Christmas music. We'll be listening to it the next four Sundays!